Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Some parts of our reading from James 3-4 are popular in the secular culture as well. It’s rare that a week goes by without giving me a chance to observe some well-meaning non-Christian person virtue signaling on social media by saying that real Christians should be humble, that real Christians would pursue peace, or that we all need to get rid of those selfish ambitions.
It’s telling, though, that those same individuals who think they are doing better than Christians, therefore deserve praise, are so hesitant to do things like submitting to God, drawing near to God, or seeking wisdom which comes from God rather than wisdom which comes from man. In short, they make a claim which often rightly says Christians don’t do well enough at some parts of the Christian walk, but are not willing to take on that Christian walk themselves and model what it really looks like.
This in itself is a sort of arrogant pride. It seeks to exalt itself rather than allowing God to do the exaltation. It is not going to be eternally satisfying. As a Christian, my response is fairly straightforward. It’s found right in James 3:13. I show that my works are doing in the wisdom of God by doing gentle good works. And the idea of “gentle” is important. Much of Christian service is done more or less in secret. Not wishing to draw attention to themselves or to the terrible plight of those they are helping, Christians will often carry on works of mercy and charity without any fanfare. I know one person who is very active with homeless people. These activities won’t be displayed on social media. The homeless people receiving assistance don’t want their needs to be broadcast. They just want to have help and resources to get through a tough time. I know several people who work intensively with victims of abuse. Do they really want the abusers to find out where their victims are? Do the victims really want to be portrayed as victims, rather than as people who have worked through their pasts and are more stable now? Not at all. So the work of the Christian is gentle and quiet, caring for the needy, healing the sick, bringing hope to the hopless, and then doing it all over again.
What’s the motivation for all this? It’s in the passage as well. We humble ourselves before God and let him do good works through us. It’s God’s love for others which can motivate us to all that we try to do. This is not social media shaming or re-education at the hands of a powerful secular society. It’s an expression of God’s care for the least of those living in his world.
Time to go, love and serve our neighbors, and trust the Lord’s mercy.
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